Dwarka was the kingdom of Lord Sri Krishna. Krishna built this opulent city in order to protect the residents of Mathura while He fought with Jarasandha and Kalayavana. Dwarka is one among the char dhams in India. It is also one among 108 Divya Deshams glorified in the Divya Prabhandas of Alwars.
Why Krishna constructed Dwarka City?
King Kamsa had two queens Asti and Prapti. They were the daughters of Jarasandha, the king of Magadha Province (Currently Bihar). After the death of Kamsa, his two wives became widows and they returned to the shelter of their father since Kamsa had no grown-up sons. The queens explained the death of Kamsa and their awkward positions to Jarasandha. The king was ashamed to hear the pitiable condition of his daughters and decided to kill all the members of Yadu Dynasty.
He began to make extensive arrangements to attack Mathura with his innumerable military strength. Jarasandha prepared thirteen military phalanxes to revenge the death of Kamsa. Each military phalanx consisted of thousands of chariots, elephants, horses and infantry soldiers. With all this strength, he encircled Mathura, the capital of Yadu Dynasty. Krishna saw the immense strength of Jarasandha and perceived that the residents of Mathura were overwhelmed with fear. Krishna had descended on this earth to diminish the overpopulation of demons; therefore He took this as an opportunity to fight and kill them.
With a small army, Krishna and Balarama came out of the city of Mathura, blowing Their respective conch shells. Curiously, although the other party was equipped with greater military strength, their hearts were shattered on hearing the vibration of Krishna’s conch shell. To fight with Krishna, Jarasandha surrounded Him from all sides with great military strength. As the sun appears covered by cloudy air and dust, Krishna, the supreme sun was covered by the military strength of Jarasandha. His small army of soldiers was being harassed. Krishna immediately took up His bow named Sharanga, took the arrows and one after another shot them toward the enemy. They were so accurate that the elephants, horses and infantry soldiers of Jarasandha were quickly killed. Almost all the infantry soldiers fell on the field of battle, their heads, hands and legs cut off.
Lord Balarama began to fight with His club in such a heroic way that the river of blood created by Krishna overflooded. Although Jarasandha was equipped with a vast ocean of military strength, the fighting of Lord Krishna and Balarama converted the whole situation into a ghastly scene far beyond ordinary fighting. When all the soldiers of Jarasandha had been killed and he was the only one left alive, certainly he was very much depressed. Lord Baralama immediately arrested him with great strength. But while Lord Balarama was binding Jarasandha, Lord Krishna, with a greater plan in mind for the future, asked Lord Balarama not to arrest him. Krishna then released Jarasandha.
Having lost all his strength, having been insulted by his arrest and subsequent release, Jarasandha could do nothing but return to his kingdom. Thus Mathura City was saved from the danger of imminent attack. Jarasandha besieged the city of Mathura not only once but seventeen times in the same way, equipped with the same number of military phalanxes. Each and every time, he was defeated and all his soldiers were killed by Krishna, and each time he had to return home disappointed. Each time, the princely order of the Yadu dynasty arrested Jarasandha in the same way and again released him in an insulting manner, and each time Jarasandha shamelessly returned home.
While Jarasandha was attempting his eighteenth attack, a Yavana king somewhere to the south of Mathura became attracted by the opulence of the Yadu dynasty and also attacked the city. It is said that the King of the Yavanas, known as Kalayavana, was induced to attack by Narada. This story is narrated in the Vishnu Purana. Once, Garga Muni, the priest of the Yadu dynasty, was taunted by his brother-in-law. When the kings of the Yadu dynasty heard the taunt they laughed at him, and Garga Muni became angry at the Yadu kings. He decided that he would produce someone who would be very fearful to the Yadu dynasty, so he pleased Lord Shiva and received from him the benediction of a son. He begot Kalayavana, in the wife of a Yavana king. This Kalayavana inquired from Narada, “Who are the most powerful kings in the world?” Narada informed him that the Yadus were the most powerful. Thus informed, Kalayavana attacked the city of Mathura at the same time that Jarasandha tried to attack it for the eighteenth time. Kalayavana was very eager to declare war on a king of the world who would be a suitable combatant for him, but he had not found any. However, being informed about Mathura by Narada, he thought it wise to attack this city with thirty million Yavana soldiers.
When Mathura was thus surrounded, Lord Sri Krishna began to consider, in consultation with Balarama, how much the Yadu dynasty was in distress, being threatened by the attacks of two formidable enemies, Jarasandha and Kalayavana. Time was growing short. Kalayavana was already besieging Mathura from all sides, and it was expected that the day after next, Jarasandha would also come, equipped with the same number of divisions of soldiers as in his previous seventeen attempts. Krishna was certain that Jarasandha would take advantage of the opportunity to capture Mathura when it was also being besieged by Kalayavana. He therefore thought it wise to take precautionary measures for defending against an attack upon Mathura from two strategic points. If both Krishna and Balarama were engaged in fighting with Kalayavana at one place, Jarasandha might come at another to attack the whole Yadu family and take his revenge. Jarasandha was very powerful, and having been defeated seventeen times, he might vengefully kill the members of the Yadu family or arrest them and take them to his kingdom. Krishna therefore decided to construct a formidable fort where no two-legged animal, either man or demon, could enter. He decided to keep His relatives there so that He would then be free to fight the enemy. It appears that formerly Dwarka was also part of the kingdom of Mathura. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that Krishna constructed Dwarka fort in the midst of the sea. Remnants of the Dwarka fort Krishna constructed still exist in the Bay of Dwarka. (Also read: The Opulence of Dwarka)
When the new Dwarka city was fully constructed according to plan, Krishna transferred all the inhabitants of Mathura and established Lord Balarama as the protector of Dwarka city. After this He fought with Jarasandha and Kalayavana and killed both of them. Thus, the Supreme Lord Krishna is known as Sri Dwarkadhish, the Lord of Dwarka. After concluding His pastimes on this planet and the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty, Lord Krishna pushed Dwarka in the sea and the whole city was submerged and unknown to devotees until it was discovered few years back in the Arabian Sea.
Note: The contents of this post have been adapted from the book Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The painters own the copyrights of the paintings published in this post.